United Church of Christ

Love Your Nature As Yourself

"And the second [commandment] is like it: love your neighbor as yourself." - Matthew 22:39

As we move into the heat and joy of summer, you may not be headed to church camp, but here's a little church camp come to you.

At the UCC church camp I grew up at (shout out: Silver Lake in western Connecticut!), we had three loves we lived by:

Love God
Love your neighbor
Love yourself

...in that order.

I suspect that some of us have the hardest time with the third love. What if we pulled a little Letterman and changed number two into:  love your NATURE as yourself?

Genetics has determined a good bit of who we are. And developmental psychology has proven the concept of temperament: each of us has a specific personality we were born with. We can tame certain parts of ourselves. We can learn how to behave in more socially acceptable ways. But to a degree, we are who we are.

Jesus said the second-most important thing we can do, after loving God, is love our neighbors as we love ourselves. But what if we relentlessly pick at and judge ourselves? Where does that leave our neighbors?

What if we flipped the script: identifying the person (or pet!) we find easiest to love, the person whose foibles are adorable, whose flaws are growing edges, whom we love not in spite of, but because of, their humanness--and then granting ourselves the tenderness, permission and affection we offer them freely?

Imagine a world in which everybody loved like this, from the inside out: all of us with intact egos, supersaturated souls, overflowing hearts?

Prayer

Holy One, you made me who I am, and you love me as I am. Help me love myself as you love me, and as I have loved so many others. Amen.

About the Author
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of the First Church of Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church and Standing Naked Before God.

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